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Robert G. Moser, Chair BAT 2.116, Mailcode A1800, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-5121

Jeremy Fortier

B.A., M.A., University of Toronto

Contact

Biography

Email: jf101 [AT] utexas [DOT] edu

Interests

history of political thought; contemporary liberalism and multiculturalism

GOV F312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

84791 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 1130am-100pm CAL 100
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COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

Contemporary American politics is often viewed as “ideological” and “partisan”: a contest between liberals represented by the Democratic Party and conservatives represented by the Republican Party. For most of us, our first impressions about politics are formed by identifying with (or against) one of these factions and many people’s understanding of politics will be filtered through that lens for their entire lives. Contemporary ideological divisions are, however, only a recent development in a much older revolution in politics – the experiment with liberal democratic government which was initially proposed by the philosophy of the European Enlightenment, and which was then put into practice through the founding of the United States. The political ideologies which we now call “liberal” or “conservative” are primarily just competing interpretations of this earlier, foundational idea of liberalism; even critics of that idea rarely reject it altogether. Thus, in order to understand what is at stake in contemporary ideological debates, we need to understand their relationship to much older arguments about the nature and purpose of government. That will be our task in this course.

 

GRADING POLICY  

 

Three in-class exams (at least one of which will include the option to write an in-class essay or a take-home version), and an attendance/participation component (which will include in-class quizzes). 

 

TEXTS  

 

Locke. Second Treatise of Government.

Tocqueville. Democracy in America.

 

PREREQUISITE  

 

GOV 310L

 

GOV 312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

39067 • Spring 2014
Meets MWF 1000am-1100am MEZ 1.306
show description

COURSE DESCRIPTION

 

Contemporary American politics is often viewed as “ideological” and “partisan”: a contest between liberals represented by the Democratic Party and conservatives represented by the Republican Party. For most of us, our first impressions about politics are formed by identifying with (or against) one of these factions and many people’s understanding of politics will be filtered through that lens for their entire lives. Contemporary ideological divisions are, however, only a recent development in a much older revolution in politics – the experiment with liberal democratic government which was initially proposed by the philosophy of the European Enlightenment, and which was then put into practice through the founding of the United States. The political ideologies which we now call “liberal” or “conservative” are primarily just competing interpretations of this earlier, foundational idea of liberalism; even critics of that idea rarely reject it altogether. Thus, in order to understand what is at stake in contemporary ideological debates, we need to understand their relationship to much older arguments about the nature and purpose of government.

 

This course canvasses the evolution of liberalism from a philosophical idea to partisan ideology in three stages: (1) an overview of the liberal political thought which influenced the American founding (e.g., John Locke) (2) a consideration of two landmark commentaries on the development of liberal democratic societies in the 19th-century – one foreshadowing the position of contemporary conservatism (Tocqueville) and one closer to modern-day liberalism (J.S. Mill) (3) a discussion of several contemporary statements of “liberalism” and “conservatism”, especially through a comparison authors who argue that the older liberal project is in a state of dangerous decline (e.g., Irving Kristol) versus those who see it as moving from strength to strength (e.g., Steven Pinker).

 

GRADING POLICY

 

Course grades will be determined on the basis of three in-class exams and an attendance/participation component, weighted as follows:

 

20%: First Exam 

30%: Second Exam 

35%: Third Exam 

15%: Attendance/Participation

 

The exams will be mixed between multiple choice and essay components. 

 

For the essay component of the third exam, students will have the option of either: (a) writing an in-class essay of 1-2 pages on a prompt distributed at the time of the exam OR (b) writing a take-home essay of 3-4 pages on a prompt distributed several weeks in advance of the exam, and due in-class at the time of the exam (no late papers will be accepted). Students who select the second option will still need to complete the multiple choice component of the exam.

 

Plus/minus grades will be used in all grades for this course, including final course grades, using the following scale: A = 93-100%; A- = 90-92%; B+ = 87-89%; B = 83-86%; B- = 80-82%; C+ = 77-79%; C = 73-76%; C- = 70-72%; D+ = 67-69%; D = 63-66%; D- = 60-62%; F = 0-59%.

 

TEXTS

TBD

GOV 312L • Issues & Policies In Amer Gov

39065 • Fall 2013
Meets MWF 900am-1000am MEZ B0.306
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Government 312L satisfies the second half of the mandated six hours of government that every UT student must take.  Course covers analysis of varying topics concerned with American political institutions and policies, including the United States Constitution, and assumes basic knowledge of government from GOV 310L, which is a prerequiste. May be taken for credit only once.

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